Like many American women, 3-year-old Charlie Kern knows where the party's at—and that's at Target, the place where dreams come true. So, it only makes sense that she would beg her parents to throw her the world's best birthday ever, complete with a Target theme.
And when your kid really really wants something, Mom usually works her butt off to make it happen. Charlie's mom, 30-year-old Emily, an income maintenance case worker, chatted with me to share how the Target party came to life and how her preschooler has gone viral for her red-dot birthday bash.
Photograph by Emily Kern
"In the beginning of this year, I asked Charlie what kind of party she would like, so I could start planning—and the first thing that came out of her mouth was 'Target,'" Kern explains. The mom says that between laughs, she tried to explain that Target is actually a store, not a place to party. She suggested a "Trolls" theme instead, but 3-year-old Charlie was having none of it. Target and only Target would appease her young and pure heart.
"Every one in a while, I would ask and again she would say 'Target,'" Kern adds. And, after Charlie started telling other people about her Target party plans, Kern finally got on board. "The more I thought about it I was like, 'Let’s do this! It’s different and we can play around with so much!'" she says.
Kern turned to every mom's other trusty BFF, Pinterest, for design inspiration, finding Paper Lane Designs on Etsy for the birthday invites, handcrafted Target symbols to put around the house and she decorated the front of the house with balloon letters from the Dollar Store to symbolize the "storefront."
Kern set out food for the party that is also available at Target cafes, such as hot dogs, Pizza Hut and popcorn. Because Kern also makes cakes on the side, she also designed and baked the cake herself.
"My vision came out perfect," she says.
For party favors, Kern created a “dollar spot”—everyone's favorite spot in the store, of course—where the kids could "shop" for their gifts (toy items Kern bought in bulk). And as the grand finale, Kern's local Target was kind enough to give the family bags and stickers for the kids to use.
Kern thinks that Charlie's love of Target was inspired by her early days as a preemie. Charlie was born at 28 weeks and, after a 2-month stay in the hospital, Kern says that in order for the mother-daughter pair to get out of the house, they would load up and go to Target a few times a week. "[We] didn’t have to get anything but it was just something to do," Kern says. "Who doesn’t love walking around Target? So, maybe that’s where her love comes from. We may never know!"
And what did little Charlie think of her epic birthday party?
"Charlie was so excited to see it all together and just kept saying, 'Yay! Target!'" Kern says.